Academic Catch-Up: How to Get College-Ready in Writing and Math

This article was originally written for FirstGenerationStudent.com, now a part of ImFirst.org.

Getting into college is one thing, but being ready for college-level writing and math is another. Many schools now look at test scores (like the ACT) or college placement tests (like the Compass) to determine your placement in college writing and math classes. A low score in either area may place you in what some schools call mandatory placement courses: classes that prepare you for college-level subject matter. These courses, referred to as transitional or remedial classes, are not for college credit, but prepare you for college-level work. Taking them costs time and money, so it pays to be ready before you get to college. But, where do you turn to brush up on your writing and math skills when you’re already in college? Here are a few options:

1)    Free Tutoring

Math tutors and tutoring centers are found on most campuses these days. Take advantage of tutoring opportunities early, especially if you plan to take a test to determine where you place in math. It helps to have an idea of what sort of degree you want; for example, if you want a career in medicine or business, you’ll have to prepare yourself for a lot of math in college. If math doesn’t come easy to you, a tutor can help to make concepts clearer and build a good foundation for higher-level courses.

2)     Writing Centers

Writing Centers can be found on most college campuses (check the student center or library). These centers are often staffed with English majors or graduate students who are ready and willing to help you improve a paper. Some centers prefer appointments, so make sure that you call ahead to find out about their hours. Always show up ready to listen and take notes on their suggestions, but don’t expect anyone to write your paper for you—that’s your job.

3)     Independent Learning

Perhaps the best way to get college-ready is to continue learning even when you don’t think you need to. Too many students graduate from high school and don’t pick up another book until the fall. Realize that college will be demanding, and that it pays to be self-motivated and work independently on the areas in which you struggle.

Many students are not as ready for college-level work as they should be; however, being ready saves you both time and money. Think about it: being college-ready can mean the difference between graduating in eight semesters or 10. So, be prepared to work hard both in and outside of the classroom.